Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881): “Pictures at an Exhibition“ (1874).
The arrangement by the German Marimba Duo was published 2001 by codamusic (cm 40107). This CD presents the most recent recording from 2005 at St. Martin’s Church in Luebeck, Germany. It is also available in a narrated version (ISBN 978-3-940161-04-8) as a humorous and informative story for schoolchildren (German language).
In 1874, within three weeks, Modest Mussorgsky composed his piano cycle "Pictures at an Exhibition". It is dedicated to his friend, Victor Hartmann, an artist who died the year before.
Mussorsky brings the artist’s paintings to life with a tour through an art exhibit. Very few of the paintings still exist and some were never brought to canvas.
When Mussorgsky died in 1881, he had no notion of the fame that his music would achieve. Nor could he have imagined that innumerable composers, some of them very famous themselves, would transcribe his composition for other instruments. One only needs to think of Ravel’s transcription for orchestra from 1922.
Following this tradition, the German Marimba Duo has adapted all sixteen pieces for two marimbas, enabling each to be seen in a new light. Not only does the marimba’s tremolo lend new expression to the song of the sad troubador in “The Old Castle“, but also during “The Market Square“ the mallets seem to fly around the listener who is suddenly in the middle of the market scene. With each “Promenade“, as well as “Bydlo“ with its massive wagon being pulled by oxen, the musicians demonstrate the wonderful way in which it is possible to voice feelings and create moods with the marimba, even the indescribable contents of works of art.
The marimba belongs to the family of the mallet instruments. Its sound is produced solely by striking the wood. The resonators only amplify the sound, but in such a phenomenal way that the audience often associates it with much larger instruments, such as organ, or even with an entire orchestra.
The bars are usually made of palisander, the most resonant tropical wood, and are set up in the same order as piano keys. Various types of mallets are used for striking the wood- hard, soft, large, small, thick, thin, wrapped in yarn or unwrapped- making it possible to evoke a wide variety of sounds.
Further information can be found under www.german-marimba-duo.de